In this fast viral world we now live in due to so many social media platforms, I have found it bothersome that I can’t share all I want to with those who follow @CBS4Denver and/or @MistyMontano on Twitter or facebook.  Rather, instead of saying can’t, I should say, I don’t have the time to re-write and share the information I receive from press releases.


One of my responsibilities as an assignment editor on the news desk for CBS4 News is to sort through, distribute, and file all of the press releases the news desk receives.  These releases are sent to the news desk, presumably, in hope the station previews and covers the event.  It’s also information organizations want media to distribute to the public so people will be informed, attend events, etc.


In a six-hour span today I and my coworkers sorted through approximately 300 emails.  Even if only 1/3 of these emails were press releases with events for media to distribute and to cover, that’s 100 events that were filed.  I hope I’m not the first one to tell you this, but newsrooms are getting smaller.  We have less staff and are expected to do the same, if not more, amount of work.  There is no way we, or any other media outlet, will ever cover every single event that gets sent our way.  If we don’t preview, promote or cover the event in some form, it’s very rare that it’ll get any mention on the Web site either.


What I can do though is share your information on Twitter and facebook.  When I get releases on events or info I know people want to know about, I Tweet.  People follow and friend me and the station because they want to know what we’re doing, what we’re covering, what we’re finding out.  They won’t take the time to look up individual organizations to find out what’s happening, but they do turn to the news station to tell them about it.


I share as much information as I can, but I don’t have time to make it all fit in 140 characters.  What I do have time for is to slap a tease or headline on the information and share a link.  More often than not I receive the press release without a link, not even to an events calendar.


For example in the last couple of weeks I have received press releases from the City of Denver and the City of Aurora to announce when the city pools will be for the dogs, not the people to enjoy.  These are hugely popular yearly events.  We love our pets in Colorado!  I knew immediately that people would want to know this information so they could plan, save the date.  But neither press release had a link to anything.


I took the time to go the city Web sites to find a link on my own, but to my surprise neither event was listed on either site!  By now, or sooner to the date of the events, I’m sure the city calendars will be updated and the information will be available on the city Web sites.  If a press release is ready for distribution to the media, why can’t at least the press release be available online at the same time?  I truly appreciate organizations that do this, such as the Denver DA office, Weld County Sheriff’s Department and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department.  Many organizations have Press Room links on their Web sites, but if releases aren’t put up there at same time they’re released, what’s the point?


As far as the public is concerned, knowing the who,what, where, why and how is sufficient information for planning purposes.  This doesn’t mean you don’t still publish your fancy flier or event page, though.  If it’s not ready yet a press release will do in the meantime!


While I’m on the subject, I’m going to take a slight tangent and make a plea with PR or PIO’s that deal with the media during breaking news situations.  Please, if you have the capability, put updates online as you get them.  If you do, I (and other newsrooms) won’t call you persistently!  Just last week during an arson and stabbing incident in Keenesburg, Co, the Weld County Sheriff PIO did just that on an in progress incident web page.  He sent an email release to the news desk saying to go to the Web site for updates and I did.  He kept the updates coming as he got them.  This news desk only called him twice during the entire incident: the first when the story broke, the second to confirm or deny reports we were given by the State Patrol.